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Die Sinker and Engraver
Die sinkers and engravers are artisans qualified in the designing, modelling and striking of medals and coins. They also oversee the machines from which these coins and medals are struck.

When a new coin or medal is made, a sketch-plan is made of that which will be portrayed. This is often the task of the die sinker and engraver. These designs can be front views, skew or profile views of well- known people, portraits of buildings, of symbolical designs. After the institution that proposes the medal or coin has approved the sketch design, the design is modelled. This task requires exact craftsmanship and is usually done by the die sinker and engraver. The initials of the modeller are struck onto the medal or coin, together with the design. The model is then moulded into a plaster negative and an acrylic positive.

Hereafter the die sinker and engraver supervises the reducing process, where the acrylic positive is used to cut a steel the that will be the actual size of the final product. A negative is again printed from this positive die to which the necessary wording is added with letter and number punches.

The engraving process includes machine and hand engraving of monograms, different letterforms, and decorative work on precious metals. Engraving is done on moulds, plastic and metal advertising signs, metal attachments, clasps, buckles, buttons, badges, medallions and memorial coins. They also emboss rollers for tinfoil or plastic date stamps and plaques.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with your hands
- variety of work
- opportunity to specialize
- being creative

Demanding aspects
- sitting for long periods
- possibility of accidents or injuries on the job
- possible eyestrain from continuous detailed work

The die-sinker and engraver should:
- be at least 16 years old;
- enjoy using his hands;
- be creative;
- have artistic ability;
- be patient and precise;
- be neat and accurate in his work;
- have good eyesight;
- have manual dexterity;
- be able to do detailed work.

School Subjects
Grade 9 Certificate.
Some employers demand higher qualifications.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Mechanical Technology, Visual Arts, Mathematics, Physical Sciences

There are three ways to qualify as a registered artisan:

1. An apprenticeship is a 4-year contract between company and apprentice, comprising a 12-week theoretical training, which includes 4 subjects at national exam level.

2. A learnership is a structured learning programme that leads to a qualification in a certain field. The learnership programme includes a theoretical and a practical component. It usually takes about a year to complete. The training takes place on-site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets on-the-job experience whilst training.

3. FET colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (this NCV) similar to the
new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.

All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a FET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest FET College. FET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MERSETA or CHIETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.

FET Colleges offering this course: eg Umgungundlovu, Northlink, Ukhurleni West, False Bay. Subjects offered: Sculpture, Figure Drawing, Fitting and Turning

- South African Mint (main employer)
- South African Defence Force
- South African Police Services
- Correctional Services
- Jewellery and metal industries
- Printing industry
- Plastics industry
- Medal manufacturers
- Self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own business, for example manufacturing memorial coins and medals for private institutions, municipalities, schools, mines and private clubs

The South African Mint
Old Johannesburg Road
P O Box 464
Pretoria, 0001
Tel : (012) 677-2777 Fax : (012) 677-2690